Contributed by Lauren Wells
In my years of working with TCKs, and being a TCK myself, I have experienced the TCK life at all stages. As I walked with families through their globally mobile life, the question that always lingered between myself and the parents with whom I worked was, “is there a way to help the TCK’s trajectory?” It seemed that the natural route for TCKs was to struggle during the transition to life overseas, thrive for a while, struggle during high school, have some serious challenge during young adulthood, and then see many negative manifestations of their upbringing during mid-adulthood. Seeing this pattern over and over caused me to wonder what more could be done to help them to grow into healthy adults who can maximize the many benefits of their overseas upbringing. It became clear that preventive care was the key. Looking at the challenges that statistics show most TCKs face in adulthood and tracing them back to the points in their life when those challenges were birthed can help us to prevent them from manifesting negatively in adulthood.
My Book, Raising Up a Generation of Healthy Third Culture Kids looks at how parents and organizations can provide practical, preventive care for TCKs during their globally-mobile lives.
In the book, I talk about the TCK life being like an ampersand (&). Thinking about my own experience, it is the best way I have found to answer the question, “What was it like to grow up overseas?” It was an ampersand, a both/and. It was both wonderful and difficult, both joy filled and grief filled, both so good and so hard. For each challenge, there was a contrasting benefit that could be birthed out of the difficulty.
My goal in publishing this book is to provide a practical resource and guide for how to maximize the benefits and decrease the negative effects of the many challenges of raising kids in another culture. In essence, I hope to address both sides of the ampersand. I’ve noticed during my years in this field, that people tend to focus on one side or the other—pointing out all the challenges from a fairly hopeless perspective, or not acknowledging that the challenges exist and only promoting the benefits. Having lived this ampersand life, I know that the experience is not at all black-and-white. It is a complex array of blended colors that include just as many complex emotions.
Most importantly, I wrote the book from a place of hope. I believe that we can raise healthy kids outside their passport countries and that these kids can grow up to be incredible contributors to our world. I also believe that we need to take seriously the challenges that so many face because of their unique lifestyles and be proactive about preventive care for Third Culture Kids. Raising Up a Generation of Healthy Third Culture Kids is filled with practical, encouraging, and easy-to-implement ideas that I pray give families and caregivers a sense of hope and direction as they love and support Third Culture Kids throughout their ampersand lives.
Author Lauren Wells
Lauren is the Founder and Director of TCK Training, Director of Training for CultureBound, and author of Raising Up a Generation of Healthy Third Culture Kids. She specializes in practical, proactive care for TCKs and their families. Lauren grew up in Tanzania, East Africa, where she developed a love for smokey chai and Mandazis (African doughnuts). She now lives in the US with her husband and two children.